Tag Archives: moving

Itching to move? Try this first

Tony and I are spending spring break painting, reorganizing, and assembling IKEA furniture (yikes!). I can’t wait to share our progress with you. In the meantime, I’m sharing a post from the archives that was originally published in July 2009. If you’re feeling the itch to move, try these tips to make your old place feel new again.


Maybe it’s a side effect from my college years when I moved into a new apartment every year, but I still get the urge to pick up and move every August. I hate moving, but I love the feeling of starting fresh — decorating, organizing, and waking up in a completely new place.

But moving tops my list for biggest hassles. On top of packing and physically lugging your belongings to a new place, moving is expensive, time consuming, and jarring.

This August is our third in the same apartment. Every year I’ve battled my urge to find a new place with these tricks:

Clean. I mean, really clean.

One of my favorite parts about moving into a new place is that all of those nooks and crannies are freshly dusted and cleaned. This month, instead of cleaning just what you can see, invest some time and elbow grease into cleaning your place as if you’re moving. Vacuum under furniture, remove everything from the shelves and closets to dust, and scrub the walls and baseboards.

Purge and reorganize.

I hate the process of getting rid of stuff before a move, but I love that when I move into my new place everything is freshly organized and I’m temporarily not overburdened with stuff. It’s hard to motivate yourself to purge and organize when a move isn’t looming, but clearing your closets and drawers and ridding yourself of the clutter will recreate that freshly organized feeling after moving into a new place.


Painting isn’t just an easy way to breathe new life into a living space; it also goes a long way to making your place feel cleaner. Your walls may be looking dingy after years or months without fresh paint, not to mention you’re probably sick of looking at the same neutral shade. Check with your landlord if you’re renting and see if you can repaint to clean up your space and give it a new look. Consider adding color to one wall to give the room depth and an interesting focal point.

Hit the end-of-summer yard sales.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of some clutter, check out the summer yard sales near you to find some new decorative pieces or fun new furniture. Don’t overlook furniture that’s worn or hideously colored. Look at the shape and sturdiness of the piece, and remember that a bit of sanding, new paint, and knobs can turn an ugly antique into a modern, functional addition to your space.

Rearrange your furniture.

Giving your room a new layout is the quickest, easiest way to redecorate. Flip the rooms into a new configuration, move furniture you’ve been tripping over, and add that funky antique table you picked up at the yard sale. You’ll feel like you’re in a brand new place without going through the hassle and expense of moving.

Photo credit: Lynie

Assembling a home from scratch

Last weekend, Tony and I finally moved into an apartment in the city where he’ll be teaching this fall (and hopefully spring). We were very lucky to have lots of help from both of our families.

We’ve only been married for a little over two years now, but in that time we’ve built a frugal collection of furniture and other items to fill our home. I was so proud of the compliments we received as our parents helped us unpack and arrange our furniture.

“I love this table.”

“What a lovely lamp.”

“This bed is so nice.”

In our culture, it seems that pride in the things we own most often comes from the expense. Many people collect fancy, overpriced items to fill their homes, and the things they own become a status symbol for their financial success.

I was proud for the opposite reason. Each time someone commented on a piece of furniture or some other item in our home, I was struck by the fact that we’ve assembled all of these things from a hodgepodge of resources — and most of them were very inexpensive or free.

  • The full-sized washer and dryer that were given to us after helping some friends move into a new home.
  • The couch that I bought second-hand for $30.
  • The bed that was passed down to Tony from his grandparents.
  • The coffee table and side tables that were given to me in college by the older couple who owned the bowling alley where I worked.
  • The chair and ottoman that were given to me instead of being dropped off at the thrift store after I saw them in the back of a co-worker’s truck.
  • The television that we bought second-hand from a friend.

The prospect of furnishing a home can be overwhelming when you’re first starting out. Furniture stores prey on newlyweds and new homeowners with 0% interest deals. It’s easy to walk into a furniture store and spend thousands on brand new furniture and appliances. But with a little imagination and ingenuity, it’s just as easy to assemble a beautiful home for next to nothing.

If you’re planning a move, now is the time to start scouting out yard sales, browsing Craigslist, and letting friends and family know that you’re on the lookout for gently used home furnishings. Look at each piece you find with a creative eye. It may look old and worn, but ask yourself if it would benefit from a new coat of paint or an inexpensive couch cover. You’ll be amazed at what you can find for drastically lower prices than in stores. And each well loved item will add a little extra character and history to your home.

Preparing to move again

We spent Thursday and Friday scouting out apartments in the Fort Wayne area. After a lot of frustration and stress, we found a place! It’s in a small town outside Fort Wayne. Two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, washer/dryer hookups, and a reasonable pet policy. And the rent is almost half what we budgeted!

Our application is pending, and I’m crossing my fingers that everything goes smoothly. We should know for sure by Wednesday, and we could be moving as early as this Saturday.

I’m excited to finally get settled, but I’m also dreading the move. Most of our stuff remains in boxes in Tony’s parents’ garage, but things we need for daily life like clothing are sort of scattered everywhere. So getting everything together to move in the next few days is a pretty overwhelming task. Plus it’s never fun to unload a moving van in the middle of summer.

But I’m hoping to be settled into our new place by this time next week! Cross your fingers for us.

Apartment hunting simplified

There is nothing I hate more than the instability of moving, and I especially hate the long, arduous process of finding a new place to live.

I’m not usually a procrastinator when it comes to this sort of thing. But we’d just moved, spent two weeks in Europe, and I was struggling with morning sickness and pregnancy-induced laziness, so I decided the apartment search could wait until after July 4th. It is now July 7. We’re moving in 3 weeks. Yikes.

Sadly, I’ve run out of procrastination time. So tomorrow we’re heading up to Fort Wayne to scope out some apartments. We’ll hopefully have a lease signed and a move date set before we come home.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used my abbreviated method for apartment hunting. We drove to North Carolina and chose our apartment in two days last time we moved, and it ended up working for us for three years. Hopefully we’ll be that lucky this time. Here’s how I’ll be spending my day today and tomorrow:

Scope out apartments online before visiting.

If you’re moving to a new city, this step is crucial. But even if you’re making a local move, you can save yourself a lot of time by eliminating apartments or rental homes that won’t work for you. There are many online services that allow you to search apartments by price, amenities, and other features. My favorite is Rent.com, because they offer a $100 bonus if you tell your landlord that you found the apartment on the site. (We moved into a place in August, and received our bonus in November.)

Make an itinerary based on locations.

If you’re traveling to a new city to look at apartments, take the time to map out the places you want to see. Visit them in an order that makes sense to save yourself time and gas mileage. There’s no sense criss-crossing the town three or four times to visit multiple apartments.

Ask to see the actual unit.

In some states, landlords won’t show you an actual unit until the previous tenant has moved out and you’re ready to move in. If this is the case, don’t sign a lease until you’ve seen the unit. It’s easy to dress up a model, but you need to see where you’ll be living to make sure any problems will be fixed before you move in. If you can’t see the unit until the tenant moves out, but you have a really good feeling about the place, see if you can put down a deposit to hold it until the tenant moves out and you can inspect the unit.

Negotiate before you’re ready to decide.

The time to strike a deal with the landlord is during the apartment hunting process before you’ve made up your mind. Leasing agents are anxious to fill empty units, and they’re often willing to make a deal to entice you to choose them, especially if you’re a reliable renter with good credit history and income. We’ve negotiated new appliances, new carpeting, reduced rent for the first month, reduced security deposits, and reduced pet fees just by asking during the tour. Don’t wait until you’re sitting in the office ready to sign the lease. Ask for these things when you’re “just looking,” and you’ll be more likely to get them.

Bring a notebook and a camera.

If you’re looking at several places, bring a notebook and a camera to help you keep things straight. Take notes about the price, amenities, pros and cons of each apartment, and snap a few pictures to help jog your memory when you’re making the decision.

Don’t be hasty.

Make sure you check out every apartment on your list before you make a decision. Leasing agents are salespeople, and they’re good at convincing possible tenants to SIGN NOW. Don’t make a decision until you’ve seen and compared all of your options.

Take time to decide.

Once you’ve seen all of your options, go somewhere quiet to compare and contrast. When we visited North Carolina, Tony and I narrowed our options down to a few favorites, then we sat down for lunch at a diner with all of our notes and thoughts. We talked about price, location, and other pros and cons before choosing the place that would best suit our needs. Looking over our notes after taking time to process all of our options made the decision a lot easier.

Be ready to seal the deal.

If you’re traveling out of town, be sure you have enough money in the bank to pay for an application fee, security deposit, and first month’s rent. Also make sure you have all the information you may need to apply, including references, pay stubs for income verification, and valid identification.

Include all special deals in the lease.

When you’re ready to sign the lease, make sure the leasing agent includes special offers that were discussed during the negotiation process. If they promised you reduced first month’s rent or a lower pet fee, make sure the lease says so. The same goes for promised renovations and other perks. If it’s not in the lease, they’re not legally obligated to provide it no matter what was said, so don’t sign until it’s all in writing.

Photo by thetruthabout

In which I finally overcome my denial about moving again

A few weeks ago, I wrote briefly about how Tony accepted an adjunct teaching position at a small college near Fort Wayne, Indiana. At the time, the position was only offering two courses. They’ve since offered him another class, which means a tiny bit more money, but the pay is still unbearably low with no benefits or job security. It’s the best offer he’s had, so we accepted. Money will be tight, but this job is hopefully a stepping stone toward better opportunities.

The decision has led to a prolonged bout of denial and anxiety about a number of things, no doubt exacerbated by the 14-week-old fetus that I’m incubating (don’t ask how long it took my pregnant brain to figure out how to spell exacerbated, despite the fact that I think I correctly spelled it once in a 3rd-grade spelling bee). I don’t want to move yet again, especially while pregnant. I don’t want to find a new doctor, or face another year of financial and residential instability.

Most of all, though, I really don’t want to accept the fact that this decision puts us back to square one financially. It’s going to be a while before we have enough wiggle room in our budget to start saving again, unfortunately. It’s back to a bare bones budget and a sadly dwindling bank account.

We’re also back in debt. We currently owe the hospital about $2,000 for my insurance deductible. It’s money that we have, that we technically could pay right now, but letting go of that kind of cash with no income is a little too scary for me. So we’ve worked out an interest-free payment plan to pay it back over the next several months to decrease the sting a little.

I’m thankful for my health insurance, even if it is expensive, and glad that it only requires us to pay $2,000 out of pocket for my entire pregnancy. I was feeling bitter about the cost of my monthly insurance premiums until I started receiving my first bills for prenatal care. Between ultrasounds and lab work, I capped my deductible in my first appointment. So yeah. I don’t mind writing those insurance checks every month.

We have a lot of decisions to make in the next month, and a long list of to-dos during a time when I can barely force myself to get out of bed and take a shower, let alone find a new doctor, find an apartment we can afford, and get myself together enough to start substitute teaching in the fall.

But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that despite all the stress, I’m looking forward to moving into the home where we’ll welcome this baby in December — the place that will first house our family. The icing on the cake? We’ll get to enjoy a real fall this year; we’ll hopefully see a real live snowstorm or two this winter; and we’ll be just a short drive away from the families that were over 800 miles away just a few months ago.

Considering our budget, our next home will likely to be cramped. We might not even be able to afford a place with an extra room for a nursery. But it will be our home, the place where I’ll set up my baby’s furniture, fold his or her tiny little clothes, and prepare for a new chapter in our lives.

That doesn’t mean getting there isn’t going to be a pain in the ass.

Photo by martie

Business as usual

We’ve been back since last Wednesday, but I’ve been dragging my feet about getting back to my routine. Vacation was wonderful, of course, but exhausting. I spent a lot of time looking for a place to sit down as we toured the cities. But my goal was to let my pregnancy interfere with our plans as little as possible, and I think I succeeded. We saw and did almost everything on our lists, and we had the time of our lives — even if I did spend some of it feeling pretty sick.

Unfortunately, I came down with a nasty cold just a couple days before we headed home. With the cold and the jet lag that followed after our flight home, the morning sickness hit me again in full force. So I’ve been laying low for a few days getting lots of rest.

I’m 12 weeks pregnant this week, so I’m crossing my fingers that I’m almost through the worst of the nausea, fatigue, and general first trimester yuckiness. Rough pregnancies run in my family, unfortunately. My mom and two of my three sisters struggled with just about every uncomfortable pregnancy side effect in the book. In a way, watching my sisters go through it prepared me for the worst. But I suppose nothing can fully prepare you for the discomfort, so I’m learning as I go.

Right now I’m looking forward to the magical surge of energy I keep hearing about in the second trimester, because I sure could use some motivation, especially now. It looks like we’re moving again a little sooner that we thought! Tony found a part-time teaching job at a community college about 2 hours away. It’s in Indiana, and it’s about halfway between our families, so the location is good. Unfortunately, it’s part-time and temporary. That means no benefits, very low pay, and no guarantee that there will be classes available for him to teach in the spring.

We were hoping a better opportunity would come along, but he needs to build teaching experience before he can qualify for a more permanent, full-time position. Things will be tough for a couple years, but Tony will be searching for a second job and I’ll continue to bring in money through freelance ventures. We’ve lived on a tight budget before, and we can do it again.

As of now, we’re planning on moving in July so we can get settled and Tony can find a second job before his classes begin in August. I’m giving myself a couple weeks off before we start looking for a place and preparing for the move, and I’m really hoping to get past the first trimester funk before it’s time to move again. We’re leaving 99% of our boxes packed, so this time it should only be a matter of finding a place, loading up, and getting there.

I’m hoping to resume regular blogging tomorrow. Thanks so much for your patience as things have been so dead around here for the past month. I have tons of pictures and stories from our trip to share with you, and I have lots of ideas floating in my head as we prepare for our first baby on a limited budget. Stay tuned!

We made it! We’re here! I’m beat.

After a long week and an even longer weekend, we have arrived in Indiana. The truck is unloaded, but nothing is unpacked.

I’m resting today and trying to get us situated. Tony took a road trip about 3 hours away to interview for a teaching job. Think good thoughts for him today!

I’m going to try to get back to regular posting as soon as possible, but it may continue to be quiet around here for the rest of the month. We’re preparing for our trip this week, and then flying to Europe a week from tomorrow. I hope to have some posts scheduled before we go, but unfortunately I can’t make any promises.

Things will go back to normal around here by the end of the month.

In the meantime, I would love to run some guest posts from some of you this month. Shoot me an email if you’re interested in writing one!

On our way home

After months of planning and counting down, it’s finally time for us to head home.

We’ll be hitting the road to head back to Indiana this Saturday. We’ve only just begun to pack up, which means I’ll likely be too busy to post much this week. Unfortunately, I’m also quite ill, which is making packing a challenge — to say the least. I’m so thankful to Tony for picking up my slack. I couldn’t ask for a better husband and partner.

I’m sure I’ll have a lot to share once we get settled. For now, I hope you’ll check out the archives, leave a question in the comments, and bear with me while we journey 800 miles to our new home.

I do have a quick piece of fantastic news, though: our subletter problem was solved just in the nick of time. After having three different people go through the steps to sublet our apartment and back out at the last minute, I was incredibly frustrated. I was also under a lot of stress.

We finally decided to throw up our hands. We gave our landlords notice that we’d be moving out May 1, and they agreed to put our apartment back on the market. We’d only be responsible for rent until they could find a new renter. Our hope was that they’d find someone to move in by June 1, so we’d only have to pay a month of rent, but we were bracing ourselves to pay all three months if they couldn’t find a renter.

Thankfully, they notified me last week that they found a renter who will be moving in May 15! That means we’ll only have to pay 2 weeks’ rent! And they’re letting us out of the lease entirely, which means we don’t have to worry about the risks involved with subletting. It is a HUGE blessing, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for us. What a relief!

I’ll be checking on comments in the next few days, but I probably won’t have a chance to post anything substantive until next week. Next time you hear from me, I’ll be a resident of Indiana once again, and we’ll be starting a brand new chapter in our lives. I can’t wait to share it with you! :)

Photo by haumont

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re
meant to be

For the past few days, this line from “All You Need is Love” has been my mantra. No matter how prepared you feel for each of life’s milestones, sometimes it can feel like you’re just not ready. I’ve known about what’s coming up in the next couple months for almost a year. I’ve planned for it, counted down, and prepared. Now that it’s here, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

It’s not that I’m not ready. I am ready. But I still feel like time sneaked up on me. It feels like just yesterday that we found out we’d be moving sooner than we thought. That was 6 months ago.

The past three years felt like an eternity as we lived through them, but now I’m looking back, and I can’t believe how quickly it seems to have whizzed by in hindsight.

And now we’re in the final countdown of our time here in North Carolina. We’re in the final countdown of this chapter of our lives.  Of course, nothing is happening exactly according to plan. It never does, though, does it? It’s not possible to plan for the unexpected, because you never know what life will throw at you.

I’ve spent 25 years trying to dictate the time line for everything. I’ve spent my whole life trying to anticipate the unexpected and plot everything out step by step. Now as we’re gearing up for the most hectic few months of our lives, I’m so tired of trying to control everything.

So I’m taking it one day at a time and reminding myself that I’m right where I’m supposed to be — where ever that may be. I’m recognizing that all of the changes coming in the months ahead are good ones, even if they are stressful. Every curve ball that crosses our path is meant to be there. In the end, everything will work out exactly as it should.

We just need to get through the next few weeks, and then I can breathe again.